Here's a look at how the Minnesota Class AA boys section finals shape up this week (2024)

ST. PAUL — Minnesota's Class AA boys section finals are officially set in all but one division, 4AA. These games have a trip to the state tournament on the line and will be played Wednesday through Friday before the start of the 2024 Minnesota State Tournament in early March.

Section 1AA

The top two seeds will meet in the Section 1AA final as No. 1 Lakeville South will take on No. 2 Rochester Century/John Marshall at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 29, at the Rochester Rec Center.

The top-seeded Cougars have had a bit of an up-and-down season this year and are not currently ranked in the top-20 teams in Class AA. The squad holds a 16-10 overall record that includes wins over teams like Champlin Park, No. 12AA Eastview, No. 9AA Rogers, No. 7A Delano and Cretin-Derham Hall and their losses came to many of the teams in the top-15 of the Let's Play Hockey rankings. The Cougars earned a first-round bye in the section playoffs and then posted a 5-0 win over No. 4-seed Owatonna to get back into the section final.

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Rochester Century/John Marshall has a much better overall record than Lakeville South (21-4-2) but it has played a much different schedule. The squad's losses were to the hands of No. 8A Northfield (twice), Eagan, and New Prague, while the ties were to Rochester Mayo and Owatonna. The Panthers defeated seventh-seeded Rochester Mayo, 5-3, in the quarterfinals of sections before taking a 6-1 win over No. 6 Farmington in the semifinals to get to the championship match.

The last time that Rochester Century (or John Marshall) was in the state tournament was back in 2009, so a win for the team on Thursday would be huge. One thing to note is that the Cougars and the Panthers have not yet played each other this season, so they will be meeting for the first time in the section final game.

Here's a look at how the Minnesota Class AA boys section finals shape up this week (1)

Jason Wachter / The Rink Live

Section 2AA

Section 2AA is set to hold one of the exciting matchups in the state. No. 1-seeded Minnetonka will take on No. 2 Chanhassen in what is sure to be a packed game at Braemar Arena in Edina on at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 29.

The top-seeded Skippers are currently the No. 1-ranked team in the entire state of Minnesota and they are undefeated in 2023-24. Minnetonka has three Mr. Hockey finalists this season in John Stout, Javon Moore and Hagen Burrows and they have a Frank Brimsek Award finalist in net as well with Hunter Bauer. To get to the section final, 'Tonka defeated Chaska, 8-0, in the quarterfinals and then posted a 4-1 win over Eden Prairie in the semifinals. It's going to be tough for anyone to down the Skippers, but if someone could do it, it could very well likely be a talented Chanhassen squad.

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The Storm are the No. 5 team in the state right now and they previously only lost to Minnetonka in overtime back on Dec. 7. They also have a talented roster with Mr. Hockey finalist Gavin Uhlenkamp and Frank Brimsek nominee Kam Hendrickson in net. Chanhassen has a 22-5 record this year and they are likely very hungry to try and avenge their double-overtime section final loss to the Skippers last season in 2023. In order to get back to the section final this season, the Storm downed Bloomington Jefferson, 7-1, in the quarterfinals and took a close 4-2 win over Shakopee in the semifinals.

It'll be tough to give Minnetonka, the reigning Class AA state champions, its first loss of the season but Chanhassen will do its best on Thursday evening. Keep an eye on this game because it will likely be one for the ages.

ADVERTIsem*nT

Here's a look at how the Minnesota Class AA boys section finals shape up this week (3)

Jason Wachter / The Rink Live

Section 3AA

This section has been a bit chaotic. The semifinals saw both top seeds lose so the section final will be No. 5 seed Cretin-Derham Hall and No. 3 seed St. Thomas Academy. The game will be played on Friday, March 1, at Braemar Arena in Edina.

Even though the Raiders hold the fifth-seed in the section this year, it's not all that surprising that CDH made it to the section final considering that they were just at the state tournament last year in 2023. Cretin-Derham Hall has had a bit of an up-and-down season this year with a 16-10-1 overall record and they have recently fallen out of the top-20 rankings, but they still have plenty of talent on their roster to make an impact on the ice. The squad is led by Air Force commit Chuck Owens on offense and by Merrimack commit Jimmy Dodig on defense. To get to the section final, the Raiders shutout fourth-seeded Park of Cottage Grove in the quarterfinals, 4-0, and then upset No. 1 Eastview, 3-2, in overtime in the semifinals.

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St. Thomas Academy is also a team that has had some ups and downs in 2023-24. The squad holds a 17-8-2 overall record and is ranked No. 15 in Class AA at the moment. The team is led by Princeton commit Will Dosan on offense and they also have Colgate commit Patch Cronin on the backend. To get to the section title game, the Cadets defeated sixth-seeded Two Rivers, 4-1, in the quarterfinals which was followed by a 3-2 win over second-seeded Rosemount in the semifinals.

Cretin-Derham Hall is the reigning section champion after making a state tournament appearance last year in 2023 but it'll be interesting to see who comes out on top in this match on Friday. The two teams played each other once this season which resulted in a close 4-3 victory for St. Thomas Academy on Dec. 22. One storyline to keep an eye on in this game; if the Cadets win then Mike Randolph will become the winningest high school hockey coach in the history of the state. The former longtime Duluth East head coach is tied with former Rochester Mayo head coach Lorne Grosso with 707 wins.

Section 4AA

Section 4AA is the only section that doesn't have its semifinal games played yet, so we'll keep this short and sweet.

No. 1-seeded Hill-Murray will play No. 4 Gentry Academy on one side of the bracket while No. 2 White Bear Lake will play No. 3 Stillwater on the other side. These games will both be played at Aldrich Arena on Feb. 28. The No. 1/4 game will be at 5 p.m. and the No. 2/3 game will be played directly after. Hill-Murray is reigning section champion of 4AA.

Section 5AA

There were no surprises in Section 5AA as high seeds won all of their respective games. No. 1-seeded Maple Grove will meet No. 2 Centennial in the section final at 7 p.m., Feb. 29 at Furniture and Things Community Event Center in Elk River.

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The Crimson are the reigning section champions and they are currently ranked No. 8 in the state of Minnesota. Maple Grove holds a 21-6 record this season and posted a 3-1 win over Blaine and a 6-1 win over Champlin Park in section play to get back to the section final match. The squad is led by UMass-Lowell commit Lucas Busch on offense who holds 46 points through 27 games played so far this year.

Meanwhile, Centennial is the No. 14 ranked team in the state and it holds an 18-7-2 overall record. The team downed seventh-seeded Spring Lake Park, 12-0, in the section quarterfinals before earning an eye-popping 5-1 win over third-seeded Rogers in the semifinals. The Cougars are led by uncommmitted prospect Harper Searles in overall point-scoring this year (63) while his senior teammate Heath Nelson leads the team in goals (33).

Maple Grove and Centennial actually just played each other a few weeks ago, which resulted in a 4-2 win for Maple Grove on their its home ice. Keep an eye on this section final because the rink in Elk River is likely to be packed on Thursday night.

Here's a look at how the Minnesota Class AA boys section finals shape up this week (5)

Jason Wachter / The Rink Live

Section 6AA

Again, things went according to plan in 6AA and all of the high seeds came out on top in their games so far. No. 1-seeded Wayzata will meet No. 2 Edina in the section final on Wednesday, Feb. 28 at the Bloomington Ice Garden with puck drop at 7 p.m.

Edina may have the lower seed and the lower ranking in the state right now (No. 3) compared to Wayzata, but it is the reigning section champions and will not give that title up easily. The Hornets hold a 22-4-1 record this season and are led by Mr. Hockey finalist Jackson Nevers, who is a University of Minnesota commit. They also have other D-I committed players in Bobby Cowan (St. Thomas), Michael Risteau (Western Michigan) and Barrett Dexheimer (UMass). To get to the section final, Edina posted a 6-0 record over seventh-seeded Hopkins and then downed third-seeded Benilde-St. Margaret's, 2-1.

Wayzata is currently the No. 2 team in the state of Minnesota and they hold a 23-2-2 record. The Trojans shutout both of their opponents in section play so far by posting a 9-0 win over Blake and a 7-0 victory over Holy Angels. The team is led by Jake Mattson in scoring this season but Cade De St. Hubert, Brittan Alstead and Mr. Hockey finalist Rhys Wallin have all been excellent as well. Watch out for Division-I committed defenders Hawke Huffe and Finn De St. Hubert on the backend too.

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This game will very likely sell out the Bloomington Ice Garden on Wednesday night. Wayzata and Edina already met each other twice this season, and while the Hornets won the first game, 4-1, back on Jan. 23, the Trojans won the second contest in overtime recently, 4-3, on Feb. 17.

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Section 7AA

High seeds reigned supreme in Section 7AA. No. 1-seeded Grand Rapids will meet No. 2 Andover in the championship match at 7:05 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 29 at Amsoil Arena in Duluth.

Grand Rapids is technically ranked lower than Andover in the Class AA rankings at the moment, but they earned the No. 1 seed in Section 7AA this season since it actually defeated Huskies by a score of 1-0 just a few weeks ago on Feb. 2. The Thunderhawks are ranked No. 16 in the state and hold a 16-11 record in 2023-24. It's been a couple of years since Grand Rapids was at the state tournament (2017) so it will be looking to dethrone Andover who has previously won the section title for the past few seasons.

Reigning section champion Andover holds the No. 2 seed this year but are currently ranked No. 11 in the state with a 18-8-1 record in 2023-24. The Huskies did previously lose their last contest to Grand Rapids but they are looking to keep up their streak of state tournament appearances and will be a tough team to beat in the section final.

In order to get to the section championship game, the Thunderhawks took a 9-0 win over No. 9 seed Cambridge-Isanti in the quarterfinals which was followed by a 6-2 win over No. 4-seeded Rock Ridge in the semifinals, whereas Andover downed No. 7 Duluth Marshall, 6-1, before defeating No. 3 Duluth East, 4-1. Can Grand Rapids get past Andover this season? Only time will tell.

Here's a look at how the Minnesota Class AA boys section finals shape up this week (7)

Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune

Section 8AA

Section 8AA has been by far the most chaotic section in boys high school hockey this year. No. 4-seeded Elk River/Zimmerman is set to meet-up with No. 6 Buffalo/Annandale in the section final after a series of upsets happened in the first two rounds of postseason play. The final match will be played at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 28 at 7 at the MAC in St. Cloud.

The Elks hold a 17-9-1 record at the moment and are currently not ranked in the top-20 but they have been a solid team in 2023-24. Elk River first took a 3-1 win over fifth-seeded Bemidji in the section quarterfinals before it pulled off a huge 4-2 win over first-seeded Moorhead in the semifinals. The Elks are coming into the section final contest with some momentum now as well after the upset victory over the Spuds and they are also on a seven-game win streak, which has included wins over other top teams like No. 11AA Andover and No. 14AA Centennial.

The Bison hold a 10-16-1 record and are also currently not ranked in the top-20. They are a team though that has seemed to be piecing things together at the perfect moment as they defeated third-seeded Sartell, 2-0, in the quarterfinal round before pulling off a 2-1 overtime win over seventh-seeded St. Cloud in the semifinals. Buffalo has never made the state tournament before, so a win on Wednesday night would be huge for the program.

ADVERTIsem*nT

With Moorhead typically being the winner of Section 8AA, there will be a new champion crowned on Wednesday night. It will either be Buffalo's very first trip to state or Elk River's first in since 2005.

Here's a look at how the Minnesota Class AA boys section finals shape up this week (2024)
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